Does anybody know what the best web server is for Windows that I can use offline as I want to be able to test the likes of Wordpress as well as Simple Machines Forum on it before I look at getting some webspace to host said software for a online community that I'm looking at setting up in the future.
XAMPP is one of the popular ones.
Ideally you want to run the same web server version and language versions locally as you have running on your web hosting - so that you don't get caught out by changes between versions that affect your code.
If you don't want to install each component separately though XAMPP is the next best alternative (in my opinion although some others might argue that WAMP is better).
XAMPP and WAMP are popular "snapshot" installs but, if you're a webmaster, you should prefer to setup your test server using the daemons that your host is using, i.e., install the individual daemons (MySQL, PHP and Apache ... then add PHPMyAdmin and configure it for your PHP).
Kevin Yank's early editions of Build Your Own Database Driven Website Using PHP & MySQL offered a free chapter on installing and configuring the daemons on various systems (Windows, Mac & Linux). I had to modify the basic instructions to get a "checklist" for members using Windows XP and Vista/7/8 have made further changes necessary (NEVER use Program Files OR a Windows subdirectory for the daemon installations - except MySQL - because of the need to use administrator privileges all the @#$% time!).
Note: I just saw that neither Kevin's book nor the free chapter is available online so PM if you need these to go the daemon route (unless I hear from SitePoint that I cannot legally forward their FREE - albeit copyright - chapter), I will get it to you ASAP.
I'd use IIS w/ the web platform installer if I wanted a native server or stand up something similar to your own hosting scenario using vagrant if you need to do something more complex than out of the box wordpress.
Thanks for the recommendations, guys.
I ended up deciding to go with XAMPP as there seemed to be problems with WAMP and it's not too bad so far, although I don't know how to reconfigure Apache so that it'll work properly without it clashing with Skype; port-wise.
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